The alleged leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division was convicted of five felonies forto journalists and employees of the Anti-Defamation League, the Department of Justice said Wednesday. Kaleb Cole, 25, could face decades in prison.
Charging documents alleged that Cole and other Atomwaffen members decided to target Jewish people and journalists of color with threatening posters after the group received negative press coverage. The complaint did not say when the conversation began, but alleged it was ongoing as of November 2019.
“We will be postering journalists houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them…” one member wrote, according to the complaint. “The goal, of course, is to erode the media/states air of legitimacy by showing people that they have names and addresses, and hopefully embolden others to act as well.”
In a statement announcing Cole’s conviction, the Department of Justice said he was responsible for creating the posters, which included language like “you have been visited by your local Nazis” and “Death to Pigs,” the same message Charles Manson’s followers wrote in blood during a home invasion and murder.
The posters were then sent to other members of the group, who mailed them to a TV journalist and two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League and glued them to the bedroom window of an editor of a Jewish lifestyle magazine, the statement said.
The statement said the victims spoke at trial to describe the impact of the posters. “Some moved from their homes for a time, and installed security systems,” the statement said. “One purchased a firearm and took a firearms safety class. Another started opening her mailbox with a stick due to fear of what might be inside. One left her job as a journalist.”
“All of the images (in the posters) were selected by Kaleb Cole to send one message ‘We can get you in your home,'” prosecutors told the jury, according to the statement. “Cole wanted to terrorize them with threats of physical harm.”
The jury deliberated for only 90 minutes after the two-day trial before convicting Cole of conspiracy, three counts of mailing threatening communications, and one count of interfering with a federally protected activity, the statement said. Three other co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
Clare Hymes contributed reporting.